*Deep Sigh* You know what I miss? The feeling that when I pick up a comic, I might get a good story. Instead, I’m reading Joker: the Man Who Stopped Laughing, a book that continues to struggle to meet the lowest of my expectations.
The good news is, this issue isn’t nearly as confusing as the last one. We only focus on one Joker and one location. It’s so much easier to follow. The bad news is that this is very much a filler issue. Nothing new about the mystery of the story is revealed. The characters do not develop. The book is spent, instead, on watching various episodes unfold as the Joker tries to escape a hospital to avoid the cops.
The Joker’s “Comedy”
Rosenberg’s voice for the Joker remains ok, but I think he struggles with the comedic aspects of the character. The slow comedic monologues with which he’s been opening each issue are neither funny nor do they inform the story. They’ve become very tiresome to me. Later in the book, there’s an extended scene of the Joker trying to entertain some sick children. While part of the point is that the Joker’s violent jokes are only really funny to him, the whole sequence managed to turn me off. The Joker works as a charming villain because his darkly ironic sense of humor makes the reader laugh, and then the reader feels bad about it. Here, the Joker comes off as more brash, gross, and unintelligent. I’m just not getting the likability, humor, and style I’ve come to expect from this character.
The action of the comic comes from the scenes with Red Hood. I have to say, the snowy night sequences and the movement of Red Hood as he runs or fights is still very well drawn and colored. It’s great to see a comic really use the weather and its shading to create a mood. You can really feel the cold air and the sound of police sirens as Red Hood sneaks into the hospital, but then we are reminded that nothing is actually happening in the issue.
We don’t find out anything from the Joker other than he’s convinced that the other Joker isn’t the real deal – we already knew that. We don’t get anything new from Red Hood either – he says he’s motivated to stop the Joker because the Joker killed him. Yea dude, that happened almost 40 years ago in comics, and we just had a very similar story about Jason chasing Joker for revenge. Isn’t it time for something new?
So we are left with a more readable issue with some nice art, but no plot progression to speak of. The characterizations of Red Hood and Joker didn’t thrill me either. I absolutely do not care what the “big reveal” of this comic’s mystery is going to be because, from this stand point, it doesn’t seem like it will be any good.
The Acid-Trip Back-Up
The more interesting thing to talk about when it comes to this comic is not the main story though, it’s the back-up. This is probably the worst story I’ve ever read in my time of reviewing for Batman News.
Once again, we find ourselves in an homage to old-time comics. We find Joker in a dream sequence at the mercy of yet another female superhero he’s become enamored with, Zatanna. I really don’t get the running gag here. The Joker has never been defined as someone obsessed with chasing after women. However, that’s not what makes the comic insane.
Joker wakes up from his dream and finds that he’s pregnant. I’ll repeat: the Joker wakes up in the morning and discovers that he’s PREGNANT. I didn’t make that up. Just look at the picture below.
So the Joker goes to the hospital and PREPARES TO GIVE BIRTH. Then he winds up throwing up a mud monster instead. A violent, gun-filled chase commences, but then it is discovered that the mud creature has morphed into a child-sized version of the Joker. The Joker accepts the thing as his son and shows him off to Zatanna, taunting her over the family she could have had with him.
WHAT IN THE HECK DID I JUST READ?
This is one of those comics you can’t really review, because there’s no real story or artistic vision to pick apart. All you can do is describe, what I can only surmise, is the delusions of a comic writer on a very special kind of weed. Writing aside, however, there have been a lot of these little moments or stories at DC lately that make me go, “How the heck did DC editorial give that a green light?”
Is there any kind of oversight at that company now?
- Nothing could ever stop your addiction to buy comics.
- You always wanted to see the Joker pregnant and trying to give birth.
Comics are over-priced. Their contents are of either sub-mediocre work or feature the writers exposing their fetishes. Recently, Batman News lost writer Nicholas Finch to other pursuits. He claimed that he’d fallen out of love with DC Comics. I’m really feeling that. DC comic books seem like they are written for no one, and no one is really discussing them. Yet even as more and more people become disillusioned with DC, the company behind the scenes doesn’t seem to care.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.